India’s Operation in Myanmar

At the Hudson Institute’s website for South Asia (, I have a new piece looking at India’s recent operation in Myanmar. Be sure to check it out. It is also probably where I will be writing most of my South Asia related pieces.


DC in Chaos as Interns Declare Caliphate

A Satirical Piece I decided to write. Hopefully I’ll be able to put some more serious posts up soon.

Chaos hit the streets in DC as a group of interns managed to overrun large parts of two different think tanks located in Dupont Circle declare that they have created a new caliphate. The announcement came as a surprise to many who have largely turned away from the various problems happening in the region.

“We thought the interns were bogged down in their location with a heavy workload and dealing with competition from other interns. This will have a destabilizing effect among the greater think tank world.” Said J.M. Berger of Brookings Institution.

After declaring the establishment of a caliphate, the mysterious leader, supposedly a research associate from one of the conquered think tanks, appeared in a video asking for all interns to rush to the new caliphate.

“Rush o interns, to your think tank. Yes, your think tank. It is not a think tank simply for the conservatives or liberals, nor for the Asian experts or Latin American researchers. All interns, no matter your specialty, this is where you can apply your skills.”

Little is known about this research associate. Most likely he was never formally hired or paid, leaving a very small paper trail for people to trace. The video of him has yet to be authenticated. In the video, he also called out of several think tanks and other agencies for violation against interns.

“From Amnesty International to the State Department, be warned. Your crimes against us will end. It might take a while, but we will have our revenge.”

Republican policymakers were quick to blame the Obama administration for failing to arm moderate interns. Senator John McCain was perhaps the most vocal on the issue.

“The failure of the Obama administration to act decisively against these radical interns and the failure to help the moderates out. If the administration had worked to give money and supplies to the moderates, IS probably would never have gained power.”

Others disagreed. “The moderate interns were never that well organized. Between work and trying to make money, the moderate groups lacked the organizational cohesion to actually compete against the radicals.” According to George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch. “The few interns that were given supplies took their tablets and pens to IS due to their frustration with the inefficiency of the moderate groups.”

The repercussions against interns around DC was being felt in public. Public figures such as Sam Harris and Bill Maher have come out and said that the establishment of IS proves the inherently violent nature of internship. Sam Harris has warned that even 20% of interns should be considered radical. Asked to expand on this, he had this to say,

“Well, again, you have to parse this on specific points, like do you favor getting paid for your work, do you think there should be a job guarantee? Even among interns, you’d find more subscribing to one versus the other, depending on the poll you trust. But I didn’t just pull the number out of a hat. There’s a group at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill that has conducted 40 years of study in the intern world – literally every intern that has been hired – and found that these views were prevalent among 15 percent of the interns.

So I would say that if you take this number 15 percent who agree with payment, and then you look at the poll results on specific implementation of intern’s demands – do you want research fellows and government officials to give recommendation letters or should you be hired – you never find the number, with very few exceptions, you never find the number as low as 15 percent voting in favor of these deals. It’s often 60 percent depending on the type of internship. So I believe nudging that up to something around 20 percent is still a conservative estimate of the percentage of interns worldwide who have values relating to employment and work ethics that are really in zero sum contests with our own.”

Despite the complete nonsensical, bullshit logic behind this, this view has remained popular among internphobes.

Interns meanwhile have come out strongly to condemn IS and suggest the should not be perceived as real interns.

“Just look at them and their background. They act like they’re good interns, but look at their pasts. They rarely did any work. They would show up late, never get the projects done, and spend the entire day on Facebook and Twitter. These are just crazy people who have become distant in disenchanted with their own internships, and have turned to what they view as a crazy utopia to fill that empty hole inside them.” Said an intern from Carnegie.

This looks like it will be a long term struggle against these interns.

Graeme Wood’s Article in the Atlantic and responses

So Graeme Wood wrote a provoking article for The Atlantic titled “What ISIS Really Wants“. In it, he argues that rather than ISIS being a fringe groups of psychopaths, its ideology is based on Islamic ideology. Although he mentions that (albeit briefly) their doctrine is not mainstream Islam, nor does it followers represent the overwhelming majority of Muslims, ISIS is still Islamic. This has generated plenty of discussion and responses. Here are the ones worth reading.

Jack Jenkins at Think Progress

Tony Ortega at Raw Story

Ross Douthat at New York Times

Haroon Moghul at Salon

Fareed Zakaria at the Washington Post

Matt Fisher at Vox

J.M. Berger at Brookings

Shadi Hamid (whose tweets were helpfully compiled)

Murtaza Hussain at the Intercept

Mohamed Ghilan at MIddle East Eye

Ishaan Tharoor at the Washington Post

Jack Jenkins at Think Progress (2)

All these are useful readings. Rather than waste more internet space with my own words, its easier to let these articles to the talking. My own views tend to be a lot closer to Berger’s and Hamid’s responses.


So Graeme wrote a very short followup to his article. It contains some of the responses I posted here, as well as some interesting reactions from an Islamist and some ISIS and AQ supporters. Definitely worth checking out.

My First Article


For the very, very, very few people who read this blog, I just published my first article at the International Affairs Review. This is a graduate student journal at George Washington University. Its a relatively short article on Hindutva, a topic I had discussed here previously. Of course, what I was able to write was limited, so I didn’t get the chance to expand on the history of the movement or the circumstances of why they became powerful. Hopefully in the future, I will have the chance to expand, but that’s publishing for you. Also, I didn’t come up with the summary that was put there. A subscriber to Hindutva ideology is different from a right wing BJP member. To put it simply, a right wing BJP member is like a conservative in the US, different from a evangelical Christian that is more common on the Christian right.

Anyway, enjoy.

The Recent Articles from TNI

The National Interest remains of my favorite international affairs magazines. Although there are several authors that I do not like or necessarily agree with, the majority of the content is usually one of high quality and diverse views.

However, the magazine has started a recent series of articles that could be simplified to “top 5 (insert topic here) in history/the world” or “top 5 weapons that (Insert country here) possesses that (insert country here) should fear.” Although writing some of the articles every once in a while can be interesting, the recent surge of these articles have created some articles that do not meet the usual quality at TNI.
Take for example one of the recent additions to the slew of articles is “The 5 Deadliest Terrorist Groups on the Planet“. As the author, Daneil DePetris, notes at the very beginning that although you are more likely to be killed by other things (like lightning) instead of terrorism, the issue remains important. The terrorist groups chosen are the five deadliest terrorism groups operating today. Except, the author never specifies his methodology in creating the list. How is deadliest defined? Is it the amount of casualties the organization has inflicted? The capabilities of the organization? Also how is terrorism defined? Although the majority of the groups listed would fit the standard definition of terrorism (i.e. a non-state actor that spreads terror (like attacking civilians) in order to achieve a political, ideological, and or religious goal). Yet, he decides to label Iran’s revolutionary guard as a terrorist group. Yes the organization does aid groups that are considered terrorist organizations. But it is actually part of the Iranian government, not a non-state actor. Although one can argue that the actions by governments constitute terrorism, the author does not take the time to define it.

So the inclusion of the Iranian revolutionary guards is questionable. What about the other organizations listed?

While ISIS is a no brainer, the other groups are very contestable. Yes Boko Haram remains a dangerous organization, Al Shabaab is also a serious threat, one that is arguably as dangerous (if not more so) than Boko Haram. The same goes for the Haqqani Network. Lashkar e Taiba has been able to conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, has been found in Iraq, as well as maintaining a network throughout most of South Asia. The fact that Kata’ib Hezbollah is on the list while the original Hezbollah is not is a complete joke. Hezbollah is the most powerful force in Lebanon, is the only Arab fighting force to obtain a victory over Israel (the 2006 war), is gaining additional fighting experience in Syria, and has conducted attacks worldwide. Hezbollah has long been considered on of the most effective terrorist organizations in the world. The fact that Kata’ib Hezbollah is on the list and Hezbollah isn’t is completely ridiculous.

I still enjoy reading TNI, but this recent slew of articles making these silly lists is just becoming a little bit too much.

Weekly Linkages

How Ibn Khaldun explains the success of many militant groups today.

To understand ISIS, you have to understand the history of Wahhabism (or Salafi) in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s an effective way to respond to the atrocities of ISIS, with humor.

The great blog Political Violence @ a glance has some fantastic posts giving some background on ISIS, its strategy in broadcasting its atrocities, and the need to think of a political strategy when fighting the organization.

Hindu nationalists and their love for the ‘love jihad’. I had briefly discussed the subject here. Another article discusses the parallel narratives of Modi’s government, one of good governance, one of Hindu nationalism.

Husain Haqqani examines the protests in Pakistan.

Jonah Blank looks at how Kashmir will be affected by the U.S. draw down in Afghanistan.

A good National Interest article giving some background on the burgeoning Indo-U.S. defense relationship

Paul Pillar talks about the temptation by hawks to lump everything Islamist together.

Finally at Vice News, John Horgan discusses the difficulty in explaining why people join terrorist organizations, and Natasha Lennard argues that deradicalization programs are the wrong response to ISIS.